You were always there for your family and friends.

You were ready to smash through walls for them.

You would have gone to the moon and back — and willing to go even further for them.

You thought you were doing the right thing. It was supposed to be noble to help others. And to go the extra mile.

That’s how you were brought up. You were always there for others.

And yet all along you felt there was something missing. Something was off, and you couldn’t quite put your finger on it.

You were always left with an empty feeling afterwards.

What was really going on here?

Then one day you needed some help. You were stuck.

And no one was there for you.

The people you had put on a pedestal were too busy for you. Too busy to help out the true friend who had always been there for them.

At your greatest hour of need, there was no one there for you.

Then the penny dropped.

YOU had become a doormat

It hurt like hell.

You felt like crap.

It’s not nice to be taken advantage of.

Your kind heart was abused.

You were always bending over backwards to help and support others.

But ultimately you were taken for granted.

Surely, it’s Okay to Help Others?

You’ve been brought up to help others. Be nice. Go out of your way to be there for people.

If you were honest with yourself – you loved being Mr Reliable. Miss Goody Two Shoes.

Always being polite and helpful.

Maybe it was your culture — you had to pull together and help others through their struggles. Bring them up to your level.

Maybe it was your work environment. You were taught to help out your colleagues for the greater good of the company.

Maybe it was your kind and sweet nature. Sweetly sweet.

Maybe it was this deep craving to be liked and appreciated. You were never enough so you were constantly seeking validation.

Why Helping the World Begins with Helping Yourself First

Whatever it was, it is now time to change. And to put yourself first.

If you are constantly doing things for others and looking after them, who is going to look after you?

Who is going to help you re-fill your almost empty well?

It is finally time go forward in your life knowing that you are enough as you are, without any need for seeking approval or affirmation of your worth.

So just how can you stop bending over backwards for other people?

Here’s how you can do that:-

1. Float Your Own Boat First

Firstly, get clear up front about what it is you want from others.

If you don’t know why you are helping someone or what it is you wish to happen, then you could end up feeling drained and rather frustrated.

We have all been so overly influenced by what we should do, must do and ought to do, that now what we really want has been deeply suppressed.

So be authentic and do what you want to do in your life.

I remember helping out a friend a few years ago to the point it got so draining for me in the end our friendship suffered and ultimately ended.

In any situation, ask yourself what your intention is and what your desired outcome would be.

For instance, when I was helping out this friend, I could have been clear in my mind why I was doing so.

Ultimately, I realised that it may have had something to do with my own desire to feel wanted and appreciated.

“If I had a prayer, it would be this: “God spare me from the desire for love, approval, and appreciation. Amen.” — Byron Katie

With this new self-awareness, I got the freedom to be myself in that situation — and the friendship soon fizzled away naturally.

It all comes back to you increasing your own self-esteem, so you never let others treat you badly.

At the same time, I am not suggesting that one must have an ulterior motive anytime you wish to help someone with your times, resources and expertise.

Just be clear upfront why you are doing so, even if it is nothing more than wanting to feel good about yourself.

And that is okay too.

Be ready and willing to help others as much as you can, but not to your detriment.

2. Learn to Say NO!

In any situation, you have a choice whether to go along with doing something or not, or even choosing to do something entirely different.

Know that your needs count and you are important.

Once you are clear about what you want, then be sure to communicate this clearly so there are no misunderstandings.

I remember many a time I have agreed to do something where deep down I really didn’t want to do so. Such as agreeing with a friend to watch some mindless soap on television rather than going for an energising walk in the park.

It is okay to compromise but not if it becomes the norm that you always giving in.

In such a situation, I have found it best that both parties decide to do their own thing — after all in any relationship or friendship, richness comes from having a spectrum of varied and colourful interests.

So set your boundaries and people will respect you.

I am usually easy-going and happy to go along with a situation, but if I ever feel that someone is being unreasonable or crossing my boundaries of good behaviour, I will fight my corner, tooth and nail.

So it is about respecting the rights of others, but not to the point of your own rights being completely smothered.

3. Clear the Smelly Air

It is important to have no bad feelings between you and those around you.

If you ever feel used or being taken for granted, it is best to air this sooner rather than later.

Clear up any misunderstandings as they happen.

Quite often you will find that the other person was not even aware they were having that impact on you.

Remember that not everyone is as self-aware as you.

Unless you clear the air, resentments can simmer away and one day explode, normally sparked by some minor incident.

I once had a new neighbour, who was extremely noisy during the first few weeks of moving.

I tolerated his nuisance for a while and then in the end we had a face to face discussion. He agreed to only play and practice his music during certain hours.

A simple conversation meant cordial relations and peaceful evenings for me.

4. Teach Others How to Treat you.

You teach others how to treat you by the way you show up in the world.

If you treat yourself well and look after your needs first, the people around you will respect you.

They’ll know you are not to be messed with.

Negative conversations about you to friends will indicate to them just how you see yourself — and they’ll also begin to see you that way.

So best to avoid all negative talk about yourself when with others. Just be kind to yourself and especially when with others.

It is always good to be nice to others but start with being nice to yourself first.

Do cultivate peaceful relationships with equal give and take — and do tolerate those around you as long as they don’t infringe on your space.

5. Cut your Losses and Move On

Sometimes you just have to let go and move on — such as when my friendship with the draining friend ended.

It is not even about saving face or satisfying your ego — it is really about respecting yourself enough to move on.

There is only so much giving you can do in a situation.

If you feel that those around you cannot give you the respect you deserve, then take stock of the situation and ask yourself if you want to continue to be taken for granted any longer.

Many a time in the past, I have found myself in a disagreeable situation and looking back now, I realise that the situation actually wasn’t that bad.

Standing up for what I wanted and then moving away was much easier than I might have expected at the time.

It all comes back to knowing what you really want and your worth, and not accepting anything less.

Stand up Straight and Communicate Your Truth

You need not ever bend over backwards for anyone ever again.

You know you don’t need to any longer.

You’ve come a long way.

It’s time to stand up straight.

You can be a proud peacock and strut your feathers, knowing that you are valued by yourself and others.

As with most life experiences, it is all part of your growth and your learning.

From today onwards, look for the lessons from your experience of bending over backwards for others — you will be better prepared next time you face such a situation in your life.

People will respect you for your time, knowledge and experience — and they will see you as an equal.

People might even look up to you.

Someone to be respected and honoured. A true friend who will be there for you — but on equal terms.

Your friends will know for sure what you expect in your friendship — and they will truly value your friendship.

Your family will respect you for who you are and value what you bring to their lives.

You can finally confine in the bin those people who refuse to play ball and are just there to take from you.

You are now someone to be properly respected and reckoned with.

It’s time to stand up straight and communicate your truth clearly and confidently — the world is your stage.